When you decide to bring retreats into your business, you make an important transition. Here’s what I mean by that: Before we step up to lead retreats, many of us start out providing information to our clients.
This can be true even for businesses which don’t look like “information” providers on the surface. For example,
- A yoga teacher is providing information about different poses and sequences
- A business coach is sharing or revealing information about growing a business with her clients
- A healer is giving her patients information about their pain, and what action they can take to solve it
Of course, each of these practitioners is doing a lot more. They’re holding space, using their intuition, and actively engaging with their clients to bring about a certain level of transformation.
But when you’re only connecting with your clients for an hour or two at a time, the shifts they’re able to experience in a session are, naturally, limited.
So a lot of what you do might be asking your client to shift their mindset or introduce a new practice in their day-to-day life, when you’re not around.
When we decide to lead retreats, the work we do changes
When you connect with your clients in person over multiple days, you’re able to create a space within which they can actually experience what it’s like to embody the change you teach.
- Business owners can actually live the experience of setting expansive goals, exploring new strategies and interacting with one another from the mindset or energy they need to create success
- Yoga students get to practice daily in a community of mindful focus and feel what that’s like in their bodies
- Women feeling stuck get to open up their creativity, playfulness, and joy in a safe space where they are celebrated for their unique self-expression
The experience of being on retreat creates an environment in which transformation, not information, is the primary focus.
How retreat leaders grow
Taking the step to host your first retreat is one big change.
But what happens when you’ve led a number of retreats, and even begun to structure your business around small group, transformational experiences? How do you keep growing then?
When retreat leaders ask me how they can develop their skills and create truly extraordinary experiences for their clients, the answer is often to return to that shift. Same question.
To make your retreat the most powerful experience it can be, try asking yourself this:
Where am I relying on information rather than transformation?
Here are 3 areas where that question can lead to powerful insight.
Retreat content is one of the first things to look at. One of the most common errors I see inexperienced retreat leaders make is to try to pack their days with extra content: exercises, activities and workshop sessions.
If you’ve ever gotten halfway through an exercise and realized you wouldn’t be complete by lunchtime – and had to make the call whether to stop halfway through or continue with hungry clients – you’ll know what I mean!
If your retreat is packed with content, it might be that you’re still in a mindset of wanting to convey enough information to feel valuable – when what your participants will value most is space for transformation.
Where can you create more space?
How can you give your participants more room to explore what’s coming up for them; to tune into their insights and ahas?
Where are you still trying to “prove” the value of the experience, rather than trusting that your participants are getting exactly what they need?
Whether it’s calling in guest tutors or arranging elaborate trips, activities are another area to watch for the energy of “information” creeping in.
Sure, hiring a yoga teacher to lead a relaxation session or introducing a fun activity might boost everyone’s mood. But you’re not hosting an all-inclusive package vacation, and you’re certainly not a tour guide.
I like to keep some surprise elements to my retreat. When we’re in a location like Tulum or Italy, I love to help my guests experience a flavor of the local history and breathtaking beauty. So we’ll always include a few special trips or excursions.
But the focus is on the transformation that my guests are experiencing. I want them to be in these activities in the way they want to show up in their lives after the retreat – to use them as opportunities to embody and integrate what’s coming up for them, not to switch off and go into “vacation” mode.
Are the activities you’re including deepening transformation, or just adding information?
Do you need to call in other instructors or experts – or can you trust yourself to be the guide for YOUR clients?
This one might surprise you, especially if one of the attractions of hosting retreats is the chance to travel to exotic locations as a business expense! And I will be the first to admit that hosting retreats in amazing places in the world has opened the doors for me to visit some truly breathtaking places.
But, looking through the lens of the shift from information to transformation, try asking yourself whether the location of your retreat is designed to facilitate maximum shifts for your clients – or whether it’s still acting as a “filler” to compensate for any doubts you have about its value.
For example, you might be taking your clients to a European city, but spending a chunk of time on tours to historic sites, or tourist destinations.
Your clients will no doubt enjoy the experience of taking photos and crossing an iconic landmark off their “bucket list”.
But in terms of transformation, you might be able to go deeper by encouraging them to simply take a mindful walk in nature, leading a powerful conversation, or allowing them to explore their insights with each other.
Transformation requires you to let go
When you make transformation the focus of your retreat, you’re called to release your doubts, lack of confidence, and desire to “impress” people with what you’re able to provide.
It asks you to trust that that the transformation you facilitate, in connection with your retreat participants and guided by Spirit (or the Universe, or Intuition – whatever you call it), is where the true value lies.
Information is something we all have access to, all of the time. Social media, the internet, and our more and more connected society mean that finding out information is easier and easier.
What’s becoming rarer, and therefore more and more valuable, are opportunities to connect deeply and to shift the way we show up in our lives. That kind of transformation is the kind only YOU can create – because you are 100% unique in the world.
So if you’re an experienced leader tempted to add more into your retreats – or just starting out, and worried that you need to be including lots of extras in your plans – stop.
Ask yourself if you’re adding deeper transformation or just more information. It’s the real key to extraordinary retreat experience.
Want to take the next step on your journey as a retreat leader?
The art of leading powerful retreats is an exciting, and sometimes challenging journey. Knowing the next step to take isn’t always obvious – and if you’re wondering what the next level for you to step up to is, why not have a conversation with one of our Aligned Entrepreneurs Team.
Julie is our Associate coach, she’s got a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur in two separate businesses, and has led her own business AND spiritual retreats for years. She’s the perfect person to connect to if you’re serious about making successful, profitable, deeply transformational retreats a part of your work. Just click here to book in for a free call and get clear on the next step for you.